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    Five Thoughts on Babylon 5‘s “Babylon Squared”

    By | October 3rd, 2018
    Posted in Television | % Comments

    The Grey Council makes their first present day appearance, Sinclair’s future is teased and Babylon 4 returns with a vengeance. Welcome my friends. This is the story of the last of the Babylon stations. The year is 2258. The name of the place is Babylon 5.

    Spoilers ahead.

    1. Signs and Portents

    We’re three episodes away from the end of the season (including this one) and if you thought we’d be nearing the season finale with any sense of resolution, think again! Yes, the narrative arc of the season, big ol’ signs and their portents, will most likely come to a head in the finale, but if this episode is any indication, there will only be more questions! Well, we do technically get some answers but they’re all teases for future events or a continuation of a character arc that is far from over. However, it’s a satisfying amount and style of questions.

    Not much is known about the larger narrative at play by this point, other than there is something obviously there, creeping around in the corners of the show. This episode, by far, has the most. From the answer to what exactly happened to Babylon 4 to the many, many questions about the future and how all these disparate elements tie together, it’s no wonder that speculation runs high.

    The show, from the start, has been a slow burn on these plot points, instead using the season to build the verisimilitude of the world and to construct a baseline from which further seasons can depart. While there is an arc to the season, it isn’t the driving motivator behind the events as of yet. As such, the now-traditional season-finale resolution won’t occur in the same way as, say, it did in The Flash or Supergirl, both shows that treat each season as the discrete unit with which everything revolves around instead of it centering around the episode (as many sit-coms did) or around the show (as this one does).

    This gets a bit technical, and I’ll save it for the finale (maybe) but suffice it to say that none of these are wrong, just that each is a different approach to storytelling that requires a different mindset and approach to narrative construction.

    2. LOST in SPACE

    So that’s where B4 went. This is another one of those moments that makes you really appreciate the care that went into crafting the larger details of this world. The disappearance of B4 was always a strange occurrence but within the larger context of the Babylon stations, it wasn’t unique. The whole Babylon project was cursed from the start, as Jinxo attested back in “Grail.” It’s reappearance, therefore, is a shock and begs the question, what happened to it and why is it back now? It also doesn’t seem out of place because we’ve been exposed to other strange pieces of this universe, such as the strange sightings in space sector Sigma 957 in “Mind War.”

    Beyond this, there are plenty of strange sightings within the spaces station. No smoke monsters or poorly thought out endings but there is a mysterious astronaut that is haunting a time-displaced space station. For a show that has a very grounded internal logic, this struck me as a little odd. But then I remembered that we had a “Help me Obi Wan” moment earlier and this is a universe with telepaths and so future ghosts really shouldn’t surprise me.

    3. Clone Club

    Speaking of surprises, I guess this explains what Delenn meant that Sinclair had a destiny and that destiny is to become a time-traveling space-explorer fighting in some war with a strange but endearing alien named Zathras and to have DELENN THERE TOO?!

    This episode drops bombshells after bombshells and 95% of those lead to more questions than they answer. Like, what is this great war and why is Sinclair needed for it? What does Delenn know that we don’t? Why B4 and not any other station? What will happen to cause those flashforwards? When has B4 gone to? Will we see Zathras again? What’s gonna happen to Commander Pixis? And, the biggest question, how much of this will have to change during the course of production? This isn’t something I’ll get to (mostly because I haven’t seen far enough ahead to know for certain) but for the curious, keep watching and you’ll find out eventually ;).

    Continued below

    . . . I just used a winky face. . . I think that’s a sign this section should wrap up.

    4. Campy to the Max

    This is a much smaller moment but it got me. It ticked all the right boxes and was just. . . just hilariously out of place in such an otherwise serious production. During the exploratory missing into the strange tachyon readings, one of the X-wings, I mean, Starfury fighters is suddenly hit by a burst of light and, upon returning to the station, is found to have aged to death. The aspects of this that I found hilarious were not the events themselves but the presentation, acting, and dialogue. Normally tight, the pilot of Alpha 7’s lines are laughably cheezy. It conflicts with other parts of the episode, which makes it stand out all the more.

    I mean, just read this: “No. That’s not possible. That can’t be. It just can’t be. No!”

    And then, a giant flash of light and a scream and then the opening monologue rolls. Maybe I’m just easily amused but this was easily a highlight of the episode, despite the other fantastic moments, such as the entire cold opening with a very tired Ivanova. That was comedy gold.

    5. I AM THE SENATE

    The Grey Council finally has a few more faces as well as some answers to the question that’s been hanging over the season since episode one: why did the Minbari surrender despite obviously winning the war? Turns out, there’s a prophecy (because of course there is) and that Sinclair is believed to be the one mentioned in it. We learn that a key player in the war to come will come from the human race, hence the end to hostilities. Delenn gives a fantastic speech about the merits of humanity as she defends her position on B5 and, after surrendering her position on the council, is handed the Triluminary. Remember that? It was the thing she used in “Legacies” to knock out the guards and steal the body of the Minbari leader.

    As far as the prophecy storyline is concerned, this is a fascinating way to approach it because while there is a “chosen one,” that person is a piece of a larger puzzle as well as being unaware of their importance. Additionally, it is due to that person’s actions that they fit the role, not some birthright. Most important of all, Delenn’s whole purpose for being on Babylon 5 was to determine if Sinclair was the one for the prophecy. It wasn’t a done deal and he didn’t appear out of the ether, mystical chosen-one powers in hand. Take that Anakin.

    That about does it for now. Join me again next week for a Lost in Space alum guest star, doctor vs. doctor, and the ethical ramifications of so many things on the station that wraps humans and aliens in two million, five hundred thousand tons of spinning metal . . . all alone in the night. This is Elias. Signing out.

    Best Line of the Night:

    Zathras: “Zathras die but Zathras die for cause. Maybe stop Great War. Maybe Zathras great hero. Maybe build statue to Zathras, and others come remember Zathras.”


    //TAGS | 2018 Summer TV Binge | Babylon 5

    Elias Rosner

    Elias is a lover of stories who, when he isn't writing reviews for Mulitversity, is hiding in the stacks of his library. He can be found on twitter (for mostly comics stuff) here and has finally updated his photo to be a hair nicer than before.

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